Community//

Living with Autoimmune Disease in the Midst of a Pandemic

Being amongst the more vulnerable: from surviving to thriving

Sold out toilet paper. Limited food and supplies. Social distancing. Quarantined to our living spaces in the modern 21st century.  

No doubt that these are unsettling times. As a die-hard optimist, I do believe that this time will serve as a great blessing in many ways. Perhaps we will no longer take for granted the essentials that we assume will always be available. Perhaps this is a much-needed time to reconnect with family. And my greatest prayer for the world during this time is that we all wake-up to the importance of daily health habits in the gentlest way possible.  

But if you’re like me, the more nerve-racking part of this pandemic has to do with the fact that you are among the more vulnerable. 

I actually did not consider this until multiple friends called to ask if I was doing ok. I had not considered it because I pride myself on my ability to take care of myself; A self-proclaimed self-care goddess!

But, I cannot deny the facts. It is not my age or my working conditions that put me at higher risk, but rather living with multiple autoimmune conditions and compromised detoxification pathways that make me a prime target for COVID-19.

The good news is that I fully believe in my body’s ability to fight off this virus. Remember, your body was designed to fight off the germs, mold, and toxins that we encounter every single day. But it’s a 2-way street: Your body’s ability to serve you is only as good as the way you serve it back.  

My health practices have evolved over the years as my journey has taken some wild turns. And while I have learned the hard way that daily self-care is absolutely crucial, I know that diligence is especially necessary during this time. This is not the time to skimp on self-care. 

Here’s what I am doing to serve my body right now. 

  • Sleep. I know as well as you do that autoimmune conditions can mess with your sleep schedule for various reasons too long to list here. But as best you can, practice the most perfect level of sleep hygiene that you possibly can. Buy some blue-light blocking glasses to wear when the sun goes down, go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, power down electronics at least 1 hour before bed. Sleep is probably the most important thing you can do right now. Take it seriously.   
  • Eat foods that will make you feel good tomorrow. I’m not going to pretend to know which foods best serve your body because I believe that this is highly individual. During this time especially, eat what you KNOW will make you feel good. Eating foods that you already know to be difficult for your constitution or that promote inflammation will only bog your body down. For me, at this time in my healing journey, this looks like a lot of high-quality animal protein. For you, it might look like a lot of fruits and vegetables. Whatever it is, build your body up by focusing on whole foods. If you are overwhelmed by diet or not sure where to start, reach out to a certified health coach.  
  • Go with your gut. This goes with Tip 2, but I want you to realize that a minimum of 80% of your immune system lies in your gut. If you have an autoimmune disease, your gut is likely already compromised and/or delicate. So take special care of your gut right now by paying close attention to what you put into your body in the form of food, probiotics, and drink. 
  • Drink lots of water. This is an obvious tip, but again, so important. It is not the time to be drinking alcohol, even though it may seem appealing after being home with your kids all day. Alcohol compromises the gut lining, which cannot stand another blow right now. 
  • Supplement wisely. Load up on immune-boosting supplements and be vigilant about taking them. If you are already supplementing, this is NOT the time to make changes to your regimen. Do not do anything that will add more stress to your body.  
  • Rest. If you’re like me and sleep is difficult, make sure that your activity during the day allows for some relaxation. 
  • Do a little dance, make a little love… I think you know where I am going with this. Play is an important part of overall wellness. Slow down, take a lesson from the children in your life, and don’t let the seriousness of these times stop you from laughing, smiling, and playing. 
  • Keep moving. Exercise moderately for 30 minutes a day as best you can. Think “submaximal”: Walking, light work on a rebounder, yoga, light weights, dance (see Tip 7) stretching, etc. Stay away from intense and strenuous exercise that promotes inflammation. This is not the time to kill yourself with a HIIT workout. 
  • Keep your distance. By all means, get medical attention if necessary, but try your best to stay away from areas with more sick people. Use Teledoc services first before heading to a medical facility.   
  • Meditate. Mindfulness, conscious breathing, whatever you want to call it: Just do it. Stress increases inflammation which is the major trigger for autoimmune disease. Calm your nervous system and your entire body down by adding meditation to your daily routine. 

I know that these are trying times. Lean in to the present moment and remember that this too shall pass. In the meantime, please make self-care a non-negotiable part of your new normal. 

Do the things that are going to make you feel your best tomorrow. I can’t tell you what foods to eat, how much to rest, or what kind of exercise to participate in right now because that differs for everyone. 

But I can tell you that your body is full of innate wisdom if you choose to tune in and listen.

Use this time to reconnect to your intuition, your inner knowing, and remember that we are all in this together. Reach out for more support.   

    The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Community//

    Unlocking the Value of Generosity During Covid-19

    by Ebere Akadiri
    Illustration by Julia Yoon for Thrive Global
    Work-Life Integration//

    Why It’s So Important to Make Yourself a Priority

    by Jen Fisher
    Community//

    How to Use Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills in a Pandemic: A Day in the Life of a Psychologist.

    by Rebecca L. Berger, Ph.D.

    Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

    Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

    Thrive Global
    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

    - MARCUS AURELIUS

    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.